Thursday, May 21, 2009

If it isn’t accessible, it has no value

The other day a friend of mine tried once again to interest me in World Ventures. He had tried once before – asking me to look at their Web site and see how it could be improved for accessibility. I did and the site had several flaws. I made contact with World Ventures/Rovia developers offering some suggestions which they apparently ignored.
This time my friend forwarded a new web site showcasing Dream Trips and a PDF presentation. The new Dream Trips site is entirely in Flash that is not accessible. The PDF was scanned images so again, I couldn't read it. Basically the company has become less accessible, rather than more accessible. And they give no sign of being interested in making their services accessible to the blind – perhaps thinking, erroneously, that blind folks don’t travel.
There really isn’t any excuse for not being accessible. ADA became law twenty years ago. The Internet accessibility rules – Section 508 – are more than a dozen years old. All of the major players – Microsoft, Google, Adobe, etc. have made their products accessible to adaptive technologies. Every major company has also worked to make its sites accessible. Sometimes we had to hound them a bit, but after a while, they got it. Accessibility is a matter of following a few simple rules. All the tools are available. There is really no incremental cost. If the World Ventures/Rovia group wants to look like a big player they need to comply with these accessibility rules like the real big players do.
But it’s really more than that. The WV business is travel and the differentiator is that everyone gets to be his or her own travel agent, with a full travel booking web site and access to all the world’s reservation systems. They offer a couple hundred “Dream Trips” which are packaged vacations with first class accommodations at bargain prices. And they are a network marketing business, allowing people to earn income by involving other people in the program. They may not believe it, but this is a program blind folks would like. We do travel – some of us pretty extensively. I probably log more than fifty thousand air miles a year on business and try to take my family on a couple of resort vacations every year. I’m by no means an exception. Since ADA made accessibility the law and adaptive technologies made the logistics easier, blind folks travel a lot.
We blind folks are also naturals for network marketing businesses. We work well from our homes and most of us have developed the kind of social networking skills it takes to succeed in this type of business. But the current non-accessible offering from World Ventures/Rovia is a non-starter. It casts the shadow of discrimination over everything the company does. And it does not bode well for the company’s long term success.
I’m sure my friend is embarrassed that he tried to get me involved with a company that scorns accessibility. To me, they are yesterday’s news. Modern, successful companies – including many travel companies – make accessibility a priority. World Ventures gets a resounding thumbs down from this corner.

1 comment:

Marc Grossman said...

Everyday people with disabilities are essentially shut out of the digital world because companies do not take the simple steps to meet minimum standards for accessibility. AFB Consulting has launched its AccessibilityAssurance Program to support companies who are interested in opening their doors to people with disabilities. Marriott International, one of the world's leading hospitality companies, is the lead partner in the program and we are very happy to be working with the staff to provide up-to-date accessibility expertise. You can read more at

I encourage all of your readers who use the Internet Explorer browser to download the accessible Helen Project toolbar at . This accessible toolbar gives all users the opportunity to let companies know that their web sites are not accessible or congradulate them for designing and building a universally inclusive web site.

Thanks to all the folks at Serotek for once again raising awareness about accessibility.